Reflections on Advisers’ Forum

“From the outside looking in you can’t understand it, and from the inside looking out you can’t explain it,” we often hear our collegians using this saying throughout the years but the same is true for us advisers. Many of us went to the forum leaving our significant others, families, children  or pets behind for the weekend to focus on bettering ourselves for the chapters. Those that we left behind this weekend also may find us missing throughout semesters and may never understand why we do what we do. We receive questions like “Do you really need to be at that meeting?” “Are you ever going to stop Phi Mu?” The answers for us are normally, “Yes,” and “No!” The harder answer to give is always to the following question of “Why?” As much as “I love my fraternity,” or “I love this,” is said, they never fully understand how or why our love reaches back to the collegians. It’s hard to find those who understand, and it was an honor to be surrounded by women who share the compassion for our fraternity and our collegians for a weekend.

I entered this weekend with an open mind, ready to learn and to represent the advisory council of Psi Beta as our chapter advisor was unable to make the trip. Having been to the forum in the past, I was excited to see what this year would bring and what ideas could be brought back to the council and the chapter. The weekend helped to see where our fraternity is going and changes down the line to bring only the best experiences to not only our collegians, but also to alumnae.

We received overviews on areas that all advisory boards will have on their plates throughout the years – Phi Mu University, Phi Mu technology (Billhighway, LC, OP, etc), Finance, National Panhellenic Council, Phi Mu Policy, Risk Management, Advisory Councils, Sisterhood, Membership, and so much more. While there was so much that came home with me (be it knowledge or maybe a couple items from Carnation Collection) there are two things that stand out the most:

  1. “Volunteers aren’t paid because they’re priceless.” – Ginny Carroll
  2. I am not the only Ritual nerd out there.

As advisors we spend a lot of time with our collegians, either face-to-face or via phone/e-mail, and it is so important to remember that we influence and work with them in the right way. Ginny did an amazing job reminding us that our influence on these collegians is important, and ask ourselves do we have a positive influence on them? Are we creditable, respected, reliable, trust worthy, authentic? Do we follow our Phi Mu values just like we expect them to? Do we understand how the current generation of Phi Mus thinks? How can we improve ourselves and remember our strategies to grow a backbone? After listening to Ginny, I cannot wait to work with our collegians with a better understanding and provide better value to my work with our members. Influence is so important, and I just hope to continue to be a positive influence over our collegians and be the advisor that they deserve to have.

Throughout the weekend we had many small group discussions and the Ritual roundtable is one thing I didn’t expect to be as lively as it was. When I started as an advisory council member I was a Ritual advisor (and it is still one of the many hats I wear), even as a collegian I enjoyed being Ritual chair, and am known as a bit of a Ritual nerd with the chapter. To be at the same table as these women who hold our Ritual as near and dear as I do, and have some of the same questions and thoughts as I did was just great.

While we were in sessions throughout the weekend, some of the most memorable times will be those times outside of sessions where we learned from each other and built new bonds. We were able to see that we were not alone with our experiences, and no matter the chapter size we all had some of the same things occur or opportunities to overcome. This brought us closer, helped us learn from each other and gain sisters we may not have met before. Sisterhood was formed, as were friendships and lessons learned in our down time. It was an honor to connect with sisters from all over the country and build relationships to help us through our experiences.

It felt weird on Monday morning to not wake up, put on my nametag and head to breakfast with fellow sisters; I can only hope to have an opportunity like this again soon. I hope to have the opportunity to see those I met, even if only for a short moment, again soon and continue to build the bonds of sisterhood among advisors. Many thanks to all of the staff and volunteers who made this weekend possible, as well as everyone in Carnation Collection who assisted every one of us making sure we all received the items we wanted.

I entered the weekend open-minded ready to learn and left reminded that advisory councils as volunteers are not only priceless to our collegians and to our headquarters, but also to each other and the future of our fraternity.